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Petition for work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 per week hits over 120,000 signatures in a day

A petition to make work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith live up to his word and opt for an income of £53 per week for one year has gone viral, amassing over 120,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. The Conservative politician made the claim on Monday during a BBC Radio 4 programme when he was asked if he could live on the amount of benefit one claimant was receiving, £53 per week. Smith replied: "If I had to, I would," inspiring the petition challenging him to prove it. Hosted on change.org, the petition states: "On this morning's Today programme David Bennett, a market trader, said that after his housing benefit had been cut, he lives on £53 per week. The next interviewee was work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who was defending the changes. The interviewer then asked him if he could live on this amount. He replied: 'If I had to, I would.' "This petition calls on Iain Duncan Smith to live on this budget for at least one year. This would help realise the conservative party`s current mantra that 'we are all in this together'. "This would mean a 97 per cent reduction in his current income, which is £1,581.02 a week, or £225 a day after tax." The petition, started by Dom Aversano, went viral on Facebook and Twitter shortly after being set up, racking up tens of thousands of signatures within hours. The public reaction followed the introduction of a range of benefit cuts and freezes on Monday, including the 'bedroom tax', a policy which prompted thousands across Britain to take to the streets in protest on Saturday. Petitions hosted on the government's own website can be debated in parliament should they receive more than 100,000 signatures. It is not yet known whether the government will respond to the petition.

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